In what the paper dubbed "an experiment in context, perception and priorities," the newspaper enlisted the aid of an internationally famous virtuoso musician. Joshua Bell (image from JoshuaBell.com), who would shortly play to a standing-room-only audience in the Washington area, played some of the world's most beautiful classical music at a Metro station. As more than a thousand people walked through, he played for just over 40 minutes. And hardly anyone noticed or cared.
The violinist played Bach and Schubert. He played them on a Stradivarius for which he had paid $3.5 million. With his violin case open before him and a few bills tossed in to prime the pump, his 45-minute concert took in a total of some $32 from a grand total of 27 donors. And that for a man who gets paid at the rate of $1000 per minute to perform in packed symphony halls.
What are we to make of such an event? I'm not sure. Maybe it means too many of us are too busy to notice people — their skills, their place in our world, their value to God.
Maybe it underscores how poorly we assign value in life. Several people walked by with their iPods on and never even turned their heads to the music being played for them. At a level deeper than the aesthetic, money, sex, and power trump just about everything – including virtue, self-discipline, and purity.
Perhaps it means that we humans are sometimes so self-absorbed that we diminish others — in their own eyes. Bell said the experience made him terribly uncomfortable. The man accustomed to standing ovations heard only thunderous silence and shuffling feet as a piece came to its end.
For today, however, let me suggest this as a primary meaning for your reflection: There is always more beauty in this world than most of us take the time to appreciate. There are the manifold beauties of nature — sunrise and sunset, falling snow and blooming flowers, majestic mountains and roaring oceans; they are God's gifts for our appreciation, enjoyment, and stewardship.
Yes, there is music — classical, country, jazz, and rock. There is rest at the end of a hard day's work. There is conversation between friends, playful time spent with laughing children, and a walk with someone you know loves you.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world (Psalm 19:1-4 TNIV).